Answers To Your Workers' Comp & Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions

Doubt, uncertainty, and confusion can quickly cause painful situations to escalate into catastrophic traumas. Personal experience has taught us that when an accident victim allows his concerns to overwhelm his determination for justice, he neither gets relief nor justice. This is why we feel that getting answers to your injury questions are extremely important not only to relieve stress, but also to build a stronger injury claim. Allow us to address your concerns and come see for yourself how a simple answer can make a difference.

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  • Why do nurses, nursing assistants, and other hospital personnel experience so many work-related injuries?

    Nurses, nursing assistants, orderlies, technicians and other healthcare personnel provide compassionate care to patients experiencing health problems and crises. Unfortunately, in doing so, they have an increased risk of sustaining or developing serious workplace injuries and illnesses. According to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 35,000 nursing employees sustain on-the-job injuries each year. Many have to miss work as a result.

    Nursing Injuries Are More Frequent Than Most Think

    Nursing may not seem like a particularly hazardous profession. However, the injury and illness incidence rate is six cases per 100 full-time workers. This means private industry hospital workers are more likely to suffer significant on-the-job injuries than employees in more traditionally dangerous industries, such as construction, manufacturing, commercial trucking, and warehousing.

    What makes the healthcare field so perilous for nurses, nursing assistants, and other medical professionals? In addition to exposing employees to illness, jobs in this field are physically demanding, requiring workers to lift, move, or reposition numerous patients on a daily basis.

    Common Nursing Assistant Injuries

    Common on-the-job injuries for nurses and nursing assistants include:

    • Sprains, strains, and tears. These injuries are often serious—in 2015, most required an employee to miss more than 31 days of work.
    • Fractures
    • Cuts and punctures
    • Bruises
    • Herniated discs. Orderlies and nursing assistants suffer back injuries at a rate three times higher than construction workers.

    The causes of such injuries vary, but often include:

    • Overexertion and bodily reaction. Comprised of injuries sustained while lifting or moving patients, these incidents accounted for more than 24,000—or 45 percent—of private hospital injury cases in 2015.
    • Falls, slips and trips. These injuries made up 25 percent—or more than 13,200—of private hospital cases in 2015, according to the BLS.
    • Exposure. The Georgia Nurses Association estimates that health care workers sustain between 600,000 and 800,000 needlestick and sharps injuries each year. As a result, nurses and other healthcare aides are frequently exposed to airborne illnesses, bloodborne pathogens, chemicals, and other hazards.
    • Workplace violence. Nurses and orderlies are often assaulted by upset or ill patients or their family members.

    Experienced Workers' Comp Attorney For Injured Nurses

    Workplace injuries often have significant financial consequences for healthcare workers. If you're a nurse, nursing assistant, or other health care worker who was injured while performing job-related duties at Emory Healthcare, Northside Hospital, Piedmont Healthcare, or in a private nursing facility, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits

    The knowledgeable workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you protect your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.  

  • What are the benefits of settling your personal injury claim out of court?

    Out-of-court settlements

    People who are seriously injured as a result of another person's negligence often file personal injury claims or lawsuits to seek compensation for medical expenses and other losses. Although some personal injury lawsuits actually make it to trial, the vast majority are settled long before they reach the courtroom. 

    Why Choose a Settlement?

    While resolving a personal injury case in court can sometimes lead to a higher financial award for plaintiffs, it can also be lengthy, costly, stressful, potentially embarrassing, and unpredictable. However, when a fair settlement amount is offered, settling out of court can actually have numerous benefits, including:

    • Faster resolution. Settling out of court can help personal injury plaintiffs receive compensation much more quickly than going to trial—it can take months or even years to receive a financial recovery from a trial, especially if a defendant decides to appeal an unfavorable decision. Out-of-court settlements usually take just days or weeks to negotiate.
    • Fewer expenses. Litigating a personal injury case can be expensive. Although most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and receive a percentage of the pre-trial settlement or court-ordered financial award, attorney fees aren't the only expenses to consider. Plaintiffs will also likely be responsible for court costs, expert witness payments, and more.
    • Less stress. Bringing a personal injury lawsuit is stressful enough without being subjected to intrusive questioning and cross-examination. Opting to settle out of court can help plaintiffs avoid emotionally taxing courtroom scenarios.
    • Maintain privacy. Trial details are public record, but settling out of court often lets both sides keep personal information private.
    • Compensation plaintiffs can count on. Trials can be unpredictable. Even if all of the evidence is admissible and your witnesses are convincing, there's no guarantee that the jury will side with the plaintiff and award the desired amount of compensation.

    Consult an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

    If you were injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Let a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer examine the facts of your case and help you explore your legal options. Contact Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.

     

  • Does workers' comp provide benefits if an employee is injured by workplace violence?

    Violence in the workplace is more common than people think. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), a federal agency tasked with regulating private industry workplace health and safety, as many as 2 million workers report having been the victims of on-the-job violence each year.

    The Many Types of Workplace Violence

    Workplace violence can come in many forms, including threats or acts of physical or sexual assault, intimidation, harassment, or other threatening or harmful behavior. Instances of violence in the workplace often involve other employees, but in some cases, they may involve clients, customers, and even visitors.

    A victim of workplace violence may suffer serious physical, emotional, and psychological injuries that require extensive medical treatment. The cost of such treatment can take a toll on an injured worker’s finances—particularly if he’s unable to work while recovering from his injuries.  Workers' comp for violence in the workplace

    Fortunately, injured workers may not have to shoulder these financial burdens on their own. Workers who were assaulted while performing work-related duties may be eligible to collect workers' compensation benefits—as long as they weren't the initial physical aggressor.

    Under Georgia's Workers' Compensation Law, workers who are injured on the job are entitled to compensation for related medical expenses, as well as temporary or permanent partial disability payments. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help workplace violence victims ensure they receive all the benefits they're owed.

    Our Attorneys Can Help Injured Workers Protect Their Rights

    Georgia's Workers' Compensation Law can be confusing for those who have no previous experience with the system. However, if you sustained serious injuries in a violent attack that occurred in the workplace or while performing your work-related duties, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The skilled attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can investigate your claim and help you explore your options for compensation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free, no-obligation initial case consultation.

     

  • Are there any exceptions to the usual statute of limitations rules for personal injury claims in Georgia?

    Statute of limitations laws are intended to promote the timely resolution of disputes. These laws place specific limits on different types of legal actions. For a personal injury claim in Georgia, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of injury. However, there are a few exceptions to be aware of if you’ve recently suffered injuries in an auto accident caused by a careless or inattentive driver.

    Cases Involving Traffic Tickets

    Citations for traffic infractions such as speeding, running a red light, or failure to yield can provide vital proof of negligence in a personal injury claim. They also serve to extend the statute of limitations, since Georgia law tolls the statute until the citation has been resolved.

    Cases Involving Children

    Children are offered additional protection under Georgia personal injury law. When a personal injury claim involves a child, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the child is 18.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    Filing a claim with the driver’s insurance company is not the same thing as filing a personal injury lawsuit. Statute of limitations laws refer to the time you have to file suit in a court of law.

    Typically, evidence in a personal injury claim becomes more difficult to locate as time passes. This means it’s in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

    Your attorney can help gather evidence to prove liability and support your claim for damages. This will help maximize your compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak.

  • What is the likelihood my wrongful death case will settle out of court?

    Wrongful death claims, like other types of personal injury cases, rarely go to trial. It’s estimated that over 90% of cases are settled out of court. Of those that do go to trial, about 90% settle before the court reaches a verdict.

    Advantages of Settling Out of Court

    Settling out of court offers a number of important advantages:

    • Settling is less expensive. Preparing for a trial takes a lot of time, which increases legal fees. In many cases, settling before trial is the most cost-effective solution for everyone.
       
    • Trials are unpredictable. In your mind, you may have an open and shut case. However, trials are known for being unpredictable. The jury might not agree with your assessment of liability, or they may decide that your case is worth less than you think.
       
    • Settling protects your privacy. A wrongful death claim can involve a number of sensitive issues. If you settle out of court, you can control the release of this information. If your case goes to trial, you may have to deal with unwanted media attention.
       
    • Trials and appeals can take years. The legal system moves much more slowly than many people would like. Even a fairly simple wrongful death case may take years to resolve once the trial and appeals are taken into consideration. If you settle out of court, you can put the matter behind you and focus on moving forward with your life.

    Deciding to Accept a Settlement Offer

    If you’ve received a settlement offer in your wrongful death claim, it’s important to discuss the terms of the settlement in great detail with an attorney. A fair settlement should provide adequate compensation for the deceased person’s medical expenses, burial costs, and lost wages. You should also be compensated for the deceased person’s pain and suffering in their final moments as well as your own loss of his or her care and companionship.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    The experienced legal team at Rechtman & Spevak is dedicated to helping Georgia residents who have lost a loved one due to the negligence of others receive the wrongful death compensation they deserve. Our attorneys will advocate for your rights throughout every step of the settlement process. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • What is reasonable and necessary medical care in a worker's comp case?

    Georgia law requires employers to provide medical benefits as part of workers' compensation for employees who've suffered on-the-job injuries. However, only reasonable and necessary medical expenses are covered.

    Defining Reasonable and Necessary Medical Care

    Under Georgia workers' compensation law, "reasonable and necessary" is thought to mean treatment in line with the standard of care for a specific condition.

    For example, if you fell and broke your arm while delivering packages for FedEx or UPS, you'd expect to be provided with a diagnostic x-ray and a cast. If you sprained your ankle slipping on a wet floor while helping a customer at Lowe's or Home Depot, you'd expect to be provided with crutches and physical therapy exercises to help the injury fully heal.

    Generally speaking, emergency room visits, basic diagnostic testing, limited physical therapy, and painkillers prescribed right after an injury are unlikely to be denied.

    However, requests for coverage are often debated when medical expenses involve:

    • Specialized equipment with deluxe features not found on standard models
    • Modifications to the home to accommodate a disabling injury
    • Care provided by attendants with little or no medical training
    • Alternative treatments such as massage, yoga, acupuncture, chiropractic care, or water therapy
    • Surgery
    • Pain management
    • Psychiatric care
    • Extensive diagnostic testing
    • New and experimental treatments with little research to support their effectiveness
    • Duplicative treatments ordered by multiple doctors
    • Specialized treatment ordered by a non-specialist health care provider

    Some of the expenses a workers' comp insurance company may attempt to deny may very well be medically necessary. For example, modifications to the home would be an excessive expense for an employee with a minor back injury, but a perfectly reasonable request for someone suffering from permanent paralysis.

    The Value of Legal Representation

    If you're having trouble getting workers' compensation benefits to include medical expenses you believe are reasonable and necessary, it's a good idea to contact an experienced attorney who can advocate for your needs. Letting an attorney negotiate on your behalf maximizes potential compensation while giving you more time to focus on recovery from your injury.

    Rechtman & Spevak's legal team is committed to helping injured Georgia residents resolve their workers' compensation claims fairly and promptly.  Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.

     

  • How are future medical costs calculated in a personal injury settlement?

    Traumatic brain injury, amputation, paralysis, and other permanently disabling injuries can create a significant financial burden. If your injuries were caused by another party’s negligence, obtaining an accurate assessment of future medical costs is a vital part of ensuring a fair personal injury settlement.

    Anticipating Future Needs

    Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement, your condition is classified as being stable enough that your healthcare provider can make a reasonable prediction about your future requirements.

    Your provider may recommend the following items as part of your treatment:

    • Surgery
    • Lab tests
    • Follow-up visits
    • Pain relievers or other prescription medication
    • Physical therapy or other forms of rehabilitation
    • Wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetics, or other assistive devices
    • Home health care aides
    • Placement in a nursing facility for around-the-clock care
    • Mental health counseling

    Since the cost of medical care continues to increase at a rapid rate, you’ll need to use experts to estimate what funds will be required for your future treatment needs.

    Lifecare planning experts are professionals who specialize in estimating the cost of specific procedures, medications, and interventions given current rates of medical inflation. They also consider variables such as your age, general health before the accident, and treatment options in your geographic area.

    In your personal injury claim, a life care planning expert will estimate expenses for the future before calculating a discount rate to bring costs to their appropriate present value. A total lifestyle approach will be used if your injury will require ongoing nursing care or placement in a facility, while an added expenses approach will be used if you’ll still be able to live independently as long as your specific treatment needs are addressed.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    Even if your personal injury claim involves permanently disabling injuries, you’re not allowed to ask for additional funds once a settlement agreement has been reached. Therefore, it’s vital that you work with an attorney who can advocate for the maximum possible compensation.

    The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Rechtman & Spevak have extensive experience helping injured Georgia residents resolve their claims for future medical expenses. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.

  • What are duties under duress?

    If you've been injured in an auto accident, you may encounter a number of unfamiliar terms in the process of settling your claim. One of these terms is duties under duress, which is related to your pain and suffering compensation.

    About Duties Under Duress

    Duties under duress are tasks that you could easily perform before the accident, but now struggle to accomplish because of your injuries. For example, if you suffered a back injury, you may struggle to handle any task that involves lifting, bending, or sitting for long periods of time. Or, if you suffered a concussion, you may have lingering headaches and trouble concentrating at work.

    Most duties under duress are related to symptoms of physical injury, but anxiety and depression may also play a role. If you're suffering from panic attacks, nightmares, or other mental health symptoms that are making it difficult to complete tasks that are a part of your daily routine, this should be included in your settlement.

    Duties under duress can be related to work, education, household, or domestic duties. Some common examples of duties under duress include:

    • Work activities. Limited range of motion, decreased physical strength or stamina, trouble remembering information, difficulty following directions, and other challenges related to your specific occupational duties.
       
    • Education activities. Carrying books and supplies to class, sitting without pain during lectures, concentrating while studying, and other tasks related to performing successfully as a student.
       
    • Household activities. Mowing the lawn, trimming hedges, maintaining your garden, washing windows, taking out the trash, grocery shopping, running errands, providing transportation for children, and other related tasks performed outside the home.
       
    • Domestic activities. Washing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, dusting, making the bed, cooking meals, taking care of young children, and other tasks performed inside the home

    Identifying Relevant Duties Under Duress

    Duties under duress are important in a personal injury claim because they illustrate the extent of your pain and suffering related to your injuries. You can identify your duties under duress by thinking about the following questions:

    • Have you had to hire someone to help with household or domestic tasks because of your injuries?
       
    • Are friends and family currently assisting you with your chores?
       
    • Has your supervisor made modifications to your job duties or are your coworkers assisting you with tasks at work that are difficult?
       
    • Are there any duties you had trouble performing immediately after the accident, but can now successfully perform?

    If you're not sure what duties under duress you've been experiencing, try keeping a journal to note what tasks are more difficult to accomplish as you go about your day. You may also want to consider asking close friends and family if they've noticed that you are struggling to complete certain tasks.

    For each task you note, record what specific problems you are having and how much of your day is normally spent performing the task. Tasks that make up a significant portion of your daily routine are the most valuable duties under duress for the purpose of your personal injury claim. For example, not being able to focus on a computer screen due to visual impairments or headaches is more problematic for someone who works in an office than it would be for a stay-at-home parent.

    Reporting Duties Under Duress

    Any duties under duress that you note should be reported to your physician. Having your difficulties listed in your medical records clearly links them to your accident-related injuries.

    When you're experiencing symptoms that are ongoing, you need to report them to your physician at every visit. If you do not report the symptoms at every visit, they won't appear in your chart notes. This will lead to the mistaken assumption that the issue has resolved itself.

    Protecting Your Right to a Fair Settlement

    In addition to sharing a detailed description of your duties under duress with your healthcare provider, it's important that you enlist the services of an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your right to a fair settlement. Attempting to resolve your case without representation will likely result in a settlement that doesn't adequately compensate you for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call Rechtman & Spevak today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.

  • How will my attorney help me prepare for my injury case deposition?

    If your personal injury claim is the first time you’ve been involved in any sort of legal action, the thought of giving a deposition can be intimidating. However, your attorney will help you prepare for your testimony to make sure your statements do not inadvertently harm your case.

    About the Deposition Process

    Depositions are an important part of the discovery process in many different types of legal actions. A deposition is essentially a formal question-and-answer session with a witness. The purpose of a deposition is to allow the other side an opportunity to find out what information you have so they can be prepared for a trial.

    When you give a deposition in your personal injury case, you and your attorney will meet with the defendant’s attorney. A court reporter will be present to record your answers and the meeting may be videotaped. The defendant has a right to appear at the deposition, but he or she is not required to be present. Everything you say during a deposition is under oath, so you’ll be sworn in before the questions begin.

    Depositions do not take place in a courtroom. Typically, you’ll meet in your attorney’s office. The time required for a deposition varies, with some lasting just 15 minutes and others taking several hours.

    Common Deposition Questions

    Every deposition is a little different, but here are some examples of the types of questions you can expect to be asked:

    • Where do you work? What jobs have you had in the past 10 years?
    • Where do you currently live? Where did you live in the past 10 years?
    • What injuries or illnesses have you had in the past 10 years?
    • What past legal claims or lawsuits have you been involved in?
    • Have you previously been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor criminal offenses?
    • Can you please describe the details of your accident?
    • Can you please describe what injuries you have suffered following the accident?
    • What specific physical limitations have you been experiencing as the result of your injuries?

    Preparing for Your Deposition

    To help you prepare for your deposition, your attorney will go over the process with you and have you practice answering questions that might be asked. He or she may also go over your medical records or ask you to revisit the scene of the accident to clarify that you’re both on the same page.

    Tips to keep in mind as you prepare include:

    • Dress conservatively. To make a good impression, dress as if you were attending church or a job interview.
    • Keep your answers short and to the point. It’s important to provide the truth in your deposition, but you don’t need to offer up additional unnecessary or irrelevant information. Answer the specific question being asked as briefly as possible. If you don’t know the answer, say “I don’t remember” or “I don’t know” instead of guessing.
    • Pause before answering. There is no judge during a deposition. If your attorney objects to a question, the objection is noted and the questioning continues. However, your attorney can instruct you not to answer a question if it pertains to attorney-client privilege. Pausing slightly before answering the question gives your attorney time to object if necessary.
    • Ask for clarification. If you don’t understand what a question means, ask for clarification before answering. Generally, the opposing attorney is not trying to trick you.  He just wants to get answers to his questions. It’s important that you understand what is being asked, which will help you avoid giving an answer that could hurt your case.
    • Ask for a break when you need one. A deposition can be mentally taxing, but you’re allowed to ask for a break if you need to get a drink, stretch your legs, or use the restroom. Don't be shy about asking to stop for a few minutes if you need a break.

    The Value of Experienced Legal Representation

    Helping you prepare for your deposition is just one thing that an experienced personal injury attorney can do in order to help secure a fair settlement in your case. The team at Rechtman & Spevak is committed to advocating for the needs of injured Georgia residents throughout every step of a personal injury claim. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.

  • How can I prove I am not an independent contractor to get the workers’ compensation benefits that I deserve?

    In the modern economy, misclassification of workers is a significant and growing problem. While it was once rare for workers to be considered independent contractors, a large section of the workforce is now under this classification.

    On the surface, the differences between an employee and an independent contractor may appear to be minimal. Some Georgia companies regularly hire employees and independent contractors to work side by side doing very similar tasks. However, if you’re hurt at work, being misclassified as an independent contractor will lead to a denial of workers' compensation benefits.

    Proving the Nature of Your Relationship

    In the simplest terms, an independent contractor is someone who does not have taxes taken out of his check and has no access to employer-provided benefits such as health insurance, a retirement plan, and paid vacation.

    However, a business can’t simply decide on its own that you are an independent contractor. There is a specific legal definition for this term based on a number of different factors related to behavioral control, financial control, and the nature of your relationship with the business.

    Classifications Based on Supervision of Work

    • You are likely an employee if you have a supervisor who determines when, where, and how you must perform your work.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if you work with minimal supervision and the business is only concerned with the end result of your work.

    Classifications Based on Training

    • You are likely an employee if the business provides you with specific training designed to help you perform your work in a certain way.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if it is assumed that you either have the necessary training to do your job or will seek out training on your own time.

    Classifications Based on Evaluation of Work

    • You are likely an employee if your work is evaluated based on how it is performed.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if your work is evaluated based on the quality of the final product or service.

    Classifications Based on Nature of Services

    • You are likely an employee if your work is a key part of the business. For example, if you are a server or cook in a restaurant, your employer is likely controlling your work to a significant degree.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if your services do not relate to the business’s core mission. For example, consultants who provide accounting or marketing assistance to a manufacturing company are likely to be considered independent contractors.

    Classifications Based on Investment in Materials and Supplies

    • You are likely an employee if the business you work for provides you with the tools necessary to perform your work.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if you are required to buy the materials needed to perform your work, such as a computer, specialized software, and general office supplies.

    Classifications Based on Opportunity for Profit and Loss

    • You are likely an employee if you’re paid a fixed hourly rate or a set salary.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if you can either profit or lose money, based on the time and expenses necessary to complete your work.

    Classifications Based on Permanency of Relationship

    • You are likely an employee if you have a fixed, ongoing relationship with one business.
    • You are likely an independent contractor if you are hired for a specific project or task and regularly work with more than one business at a time.

    How Rechtman & Spevak Can Help

    If you believe that your employer is trying to inaccurately classify you as an independent contractor in order to deny you access to workers’ compensation benefits, it’s vital that you seek the assistance of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Do not take the risk of representing yourself, as mistakes can leave you responsible for your own medical expenses and lost wages.

    Rechtman & Spevak’s attorneys are committed to helping Georgia employees receive the worker’s compensation benefits that they are entitled to. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.